For the half-year to 30 June 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Alberto Bellan, Darren Meale and Nadia Zegze.

Two of our regular Kats are currently on blogging sabbaticals. They are David Brophy and Catherine Lee.

Tuesday, 24 August 2004

GUEST BLOGGER: SIMON GENTRY

The IPKat is pleased to welcome Simon Gentry as his guest blogger. Simon is an activist with the outspoken and sometimes controversial Campaign for Creativity. He writes:

Has IP become industry’s achilles heel?

The Roman poet Statius (c. A.D. 45-96), tells us that, when Achilles was born, his mother Thetis tried to make him immortal by dipping him in the river Styx. As she immersed him, she held him by one heel and forgot to dip him a second time so that the heel she held could get wet too. The place where she held him therefore remained untouched by the magic water of the Styx and that part stayed mortal and vulnerable.

Over the last decade or so, we have witnessed growing concern about IP and its consequences. Biotech patents, patents on HIV treatments, patents in the software field and attempts by industry to deal with peer-to-peer file sharing are all being criticised by a growing number of groups that are unhappy with the way IP operates. IP is at best misunderstood and at worst seriously maligned. Lobby groups have correctly identified IP as a vulnerability for industry and are increasingly successful in convincing law-makers to restrict or water down IP rights in pursuit of political goals. These groups may have different objectives, but they share a common view on IP: they reject both the idea that there is an essential and fundamental “fairness” in intellectual property rights and that inventors or creators have moral right to protect "their” ideas. Ideas are free, they say, and should not be turned into a private property to be traded and enforced.

How bad is the problem? Do people in Brussels and the EU’s national capitals really believe that IP is inherently unfair? Based on the evidence the answers are: "very" and "yes". The Biotechnology Directive remains unimplemented and last year the European Parliament voted by a two-thirds majority to dramatically restrict the use of patents for computer-implemented inventions. In biotechnology, despite the fact that the EU approved the biotech patents Directive nearly decade ago, 15 EU Member States have not implemented it into national law. In this case the opponents of the technology are opposing an IP measure as a way of removing the
incentive for commercial investment in the science. They have identified
correctly that by preventing or restricting the use of IP in this field, they will stop or delay its progress. The real consequence is not that the research has stopped, but it has shifted out of Europe, mainly to the US. The same may happen on computer-implemented inventions. In the last few months the Campaign has become increasingly involved in this struggle for this Directive. A failure by the EU to approve the Directive on computer-implemented inventions, will not stop the development of new software, but it will reinforce the already dramatic imbalance between Europe and the US. Entrepreneurs and innovative software developers will have virtually no choice in where they choose to do their research and development. On the one hand will be the US with robust protection and consequent possibilities for income, and on the other will be the EU with very limited protection and therefore much more modest income potential.

You don’t need to be an IP lawyer to figure out where they will choose to work and invest. The Campaign not opposed to individuals or companies choosing not to use IP to protect their work. Companies may make an absolutely rational, commercially advantageous decision NOT to patent their work. We have no quarrel with that. We reject completely however, the attempts to prevent the use of IP in certain technologies, such as biotech or IT.

We are struggling to maintain the freedom of the creative industries to choose if and how to they want to protect their work. Our effectiveness however is largely dependent on how much active support we can generate from within the IP community. If the professionals who understand and work with the system can’t or won’t explain it, who will? And if no one is prepared or able to argue in support of IP, how can we expect the politicians and law-makers not to listen to those who lay many of the world’s ills at the system’s feet. As a leading member of the European Parliament said to me a few weeks ago, “If this is so important, why do I never hear from those who support it? I get hundreds of letters from those who oppose IP, but I never hear from those who support it!”. Indeed. The future of the IP system is in the hands of those who use it. If we don’t explain it, if we don’t lobby in support of it, we will lose it.

The Campaign for Creativity exists to explain IP, how it works and why it is essential if we are to have a fair, progressive and innovative economy in which creators are able to protect and exploit their efforts without the fear of their ideas being expropriated by others.

Both Simon and the IPKat would like to hear your views on this guest blog. If you've anything to add to the debate, please post it via the Comments facility below.

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Simon,

I agree with you that there are lots of lobby groups campaigning against intellectual property rights in Brussels for spurious reasons. I presume your campaign is aimed at neutralising their complaints - good luck.

I do, however, have a couple of problems with your post. First, an uncritical acceptance that more IPRs equals greater economic prosperity is flawed. Any sensible economic analysis recognises that IPRs entail a trade-off between allocative efficiency and the promotion of innovation. The question is where one draws the line between maintaining incentives and allowing the free flow of ideas and information. That is clearly an issue open to debate by policymakers.

Secondly, I seriously question whether one can blame inadequate IP laws for Europe's failure to keep up with the US in high tecnology areas like software and biotechnology. A European innovator can, afterall obtain patent protection in the US, whether or not he is protected in Europe. Think also of the situation in relation to databases - Europe has its turbo-charged Database Directive, whereas the US has far less protection - yet the US is streets ahead of Europe in database markets. Strenghtening IPRs is, I would suggest, only a small part of the overall equation. More significant reasons behind the US success include, its superior Universities, its greater effectiveness in commercialising research, and the overall dynamism and entrepreneurialism of its economy. These are matters that, unfortunately, IPRs cannot solve.

So, I think that in explaining the merits of IPRs more modesty as to their ability to cure Europe's ills, would be welcome.

John Cahir
Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute

Alex Macfie said...

Following on from John Cahir's comment there are academic and even governmental studies suggesting that more and stronger IPR does *not* necessarily lead to more innovation, particularly in new technologies such as IT. The US Federal Trade Commission (http://www.ftc.gov), in its report on patenting last Autumn, and studies at Research on Innovation and Research In Europe indicate that when patents become too 'cheap' (ie easy to obtain relative to research done) they impede innovation by encouraging companies to switch their focus from products and marketing to patent strategies. Patenting becomes a *substitute* for investment and innovation, not a way of protecting it. This is what is happening in software today as a result of allowing software patents.


Some of Mr Gentry's comments are certainly true. In particular, recently law-makers have been persuaded by lobbyists to water down strong IPR protection. But perhaps that is because the IP-maximalist case simply doesn't stand up to public scrutiny. In the past it has won by default --- IPR policy is generally set by bureaucrats consulting interest groups behind closed doors in a manner that harks back to the corporate state of 1960s and 1970s Britain. These interest groups --- mostly large industry organizations and patent lawyers --- tend to be pro-IPR-inflation. Should anyone be surprised if, when the bright light of open discussion is shined on these proposals, they fail?

Mr Gentry will have a hard time explaining why the vast majority of software developers are adamantly opposed to software patents. These are the creators --- they don't want the protection because it impedes their work. Bill Gates said so:

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the [software] industry would be at a complete standstill today."
Microsoft internal memo "Challenges and Strategy", 1991When most defendants in a software patent case choose to settle even when they are likely to win, when there exist companies whose sole business is "licensing" patents on things that everyone was doing anyway, when whole sub-sectors of software developemnt are cut off to any but the largest companies by patent thickets --- is it any wonder that this expansion of IPR is opposed by the creators themselves? Does Mr Gentry really think that playing music on the web is an "invention" which deserves a 20-year monopoly? What about internet shopping? What about downloading data from the internet? All these obvious ideas are patented by litigation-only companies. An invalid patent is a very powerful weapon. Mr Gentry claims not to oppose "individuals or companies choosing not to use IP to protect their work". Does he support or oppose their right not to be threatened by bogus IP?

And lest we forget, there is already a form of IP protection in IT which serves us well --- copyright. Even open-source liecences are underpinned by copyright, and have been successfully enforced against transgressors. But the dogmatic view that more IPR is always better is simply wrong, and so is the inappriate expansion of IP.

IPR is not the natural state of things. It is a tool of government, and its application needs to be made accountable to the public interest in the same way as any other government mandate. The question is not why shouldn't we have it, it's why should we?

Anonymous said...

John Cahir says: "...its superior Universities, its greater effectiveness in commercialising research, and the overall dynamism and entrepreneurialism of its economy". May be being based in Queen Mary University makes US universities appear superior to him. Or he clearly does not know that most of the breakthrough research in IT and Life sciences has happened in European institutions!

The core factors underpinning US competitiveness in commercialising scientific breakthroughs relate to easy liquidity, flexible labour markets and a culture that allows failures as a rite of passage rather than a loathsome burden or stigma. Of course none of these can be resolved by IP policies, and if Europeans want a larger share of the $$$ pie, they need to leave their homes and try working elsewhere..

Amused in Cambridge

Memcco said...

If any of your bloggers are interested in P2P Software for free music and movie downloading, go see my P2P related site. The Top 12 P2P Software Links are provided

Dream Builder said...

Remarkable blog here! I really enjoyed the topic you chose to write about. I'm definitely going to bookmark you! I have a easy ways for teen to make money site. It pretty much covers easy ways for teen to make money related stuff. Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

came here strangely searching for employment search uk

to my suprise your here.

Good blog maybe you should add some employment search uk stuff on it might top your rankings, also when u search for employment search uk on this other search engine it dont show?

Maybe you should add it employment search uk

employment search uk

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great information, I book marked your site

I have a business idea own start site. It pretty much covers business idea own start related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

Yo, This blog is pretty neat. You should check out mine sometime. It pretty much covers advies email en language language marketing nl related stuff.

De Post Man said...

Nice post. I also have a site talking about credit related issues http://mortgage.27days27gurus.com/ . Take a look if you have time. credit card consolidation

Anonymous said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!
I have found free ebooks site/blog. It pretty much covers free ebooks related stuff.
go and get your free ebooks :-)

Anonymous said...

Hey good post. Look at my site if you can. Thanks! runescape money cheat

Debt007 said...

I find your blog very informative, I was looking for home equity related info and found you. :)

Debt007a
Home Equitys FAQs

George said...

business reporting softwareGet Your Affiliates Selling More Of Your Productsbusiness reporting software

Marketing Magician- John Macko said...

"I just found your your blog about Internet marketing and wanted to post you a note telling you how invaluable the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about Internet marketing so I know I'm talking about when I say your site is GREAT! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet and all marketers that come here here! John-The Marketing Magician

Anonymous said...

I love your Home business opportunity blog.
I will have to put this in my favorites.
I have a site aboutHome business opportunity
also. I welcome new visitors...

Brian said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a advertising business consultant internet opportunity site/blog. It pretty much covers advertising business consultant internet opportunity related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

clicking4man said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. There is a lot of useful information about web hosting directory in it. We offer Turnkey Websites and Reliable Hosting. We also provide a blogging service that will help your site get indexed fast and keep the search engines visiting your site. Click here for more information about web hosting directory.
Thank you
TWP Admin

Tonythebest said...

casino rama To play free of charge casino rama Free software. casino rama

Pete said...

Hey, I like your blog. Very nice!

I have a internet marketing for online business site/blog that covers the same topic.

Please visit me some time. :)

Dan said...

Your site is very clean and easy to get around in – very nice. I have a online advertisingsite. It covers online advertising related things.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
Great blog with some useful info on kansas home equity loan. I have a kansas home equity loan themed site you and your visitors might find interesting. I'd love for you to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I really like this one. I have a website that talks mostly about advies email en language language marketing nl nl site You should check it out sometime.

Steve Westphal said...

Great site, here is some more info on home idea making money

Infactahost.com said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a design development promotion site site web web web websiteownerworld.com site/blog. It pretty much covers design development promotion site site web web web websiteownerworld.com related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

If you are looking to change the look of your emails from plain white with black text to a colorful, eye-catching, attention grabbing email, OnLetterhead is the product for you. Go from "White" to "Wow" with one click!

With "OnLetterhead's "Ease of Send & Setup" (EOSS) technology, all the work is done before you type your message! Just click and send and see the results a branded difference can make.
**Marketing Strategies for the Future**

Goji Juice said...

Hello everyone! ... sorry I'm a newbie, how does this blog thing work? I bought some products from this store: www.eBookLovers.com but too dumb to figure out. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Be sure to visit our internet marketing for online business site

Brian said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a web site design web site promotion site/blog. It pretty much covers web site design web site promotion related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

Advertising can be a big problem otherwise. A lot of companies reserve a big chunk of their budgets to cover marketing expenditures.

Peter Dobler said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a affiliate business program small site/blog. It pretty much covers affiliate business program small related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Brian said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a free list mailing site/blog. It pretty much covers free list mailing related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Goodman441 said...

Hey! I found a great new site for loans and credit card information, Please visit it when you can, You will be glad you did!! Go here now! http://www.loanofficial.com

Infactahost.com said...

Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a internet advertising opportunity site/blog. It pretty much covers internet advertising opportunity related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog about Internet Marketing Strategy and wanted to drop you a note telling you how impressed I was with the information you have posted here. I also have a web site & blog about Internet Marketing Strategyso I know I'm talking about when I say your site is top-notch! Keep up the great work, you are providing a great resource on the Internet here!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have some really good websites below that can help you with credit repair and legal law forms.
You can also check out the news section at "Latest Legal Articles"

Preparing legal documents has never been easier
with our library of forms, agreements, and checklists. It is valuable to small and growing businesses and entrepreneurs.

Have you ever needed a legal form but didn't know where to get one? Have you ever wanted to cover yourself in a legal agreement or make sure that those you love are protected? FastLawForms.com is an easy to use online legal forms provider that can and will save you thousands of dollars of lawyer's fees every year.
www.fastlawforms.com

Repair your own credit , Credit Repair is an ongoing matter for many consumers. Consumers have paid up to $500 or more to credit repair companies who follow this same process to remove their credit errors. Without credit you can't get a car, travel, loan money, or even get mortgage.

www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com

Have you been victimized by credit repair companies? Many companies promise or guarantee to clean up your credit report so you can get a car loan, a home mortgage, insurance, etc. In reality, they can't deliver what they promise. You pay them hundreds dollars in fees and these companies do nothing to improve your credit. Many of them just disappear.

Everything a credit repair companies can do for you, you can do for yourself at no cost. No one can do a better job in repairing your own credit as you can. You are the only one responsible to make sure your credit report is accurate. Our guide will help you every step of the way.

www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com

www.governmentgrants.fastlawforms.com
If your application for credit is denied due to information supplied by a credit bureau, the company you applied to must be liable to provide you with that credit bureau's contact information. Furthermore you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report if you've been denied credit within the last 60 days

Disputing credit mistakes or outdated items is free. Just ask the credit reporting agency for a dispute form or submit your dispute in writing, attach any supporting documentation. Always send them a copy instead of the original

www.creditrepair.fastlawforms.com Team

www.dogidea.com

Anonymous said...

Last month I made $12,124 with Google Adsense...Click
here for free on how you can do the same!

Subscribe to the IPKat's posts by email here

Just pop your email address into the box and click 'Subscribe':